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How High Should A Raised Toilet Seat Be ?

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About 18 months ago, my now 90-year-old mother had a hip replacement, and I became acquainted with all the accessories that we were going to need to use. Probably the most important of which was the raised, or elevated  toilet seat. Now there are lots of different kinds out there, but also lots of different heights. And the first question which comes to mind is….

Raised toilet seats, which attach to the toilet, come in a range of heights from 1 inch to 6 inches.

For taller, raised toilet seats, those with legs can add as much as 12.5 inches to a standard 15-inch toilet.

To calculate the raised toilet seat you need, you need to measure from the floor to the back of the user’s knee, then subtract the height of your existing toilet bowl rim from the floor. The difference between the two is the height that the raised toilet seat should be.
 

In the illustration above, the green arrow represents, the height of the toilet bowl rim to the floor, subtracted from the height of the knee from the floor, and subsequently the height needed for a raised toilet seat.

So, if –

toilet bowl rim to the floor measures 15″,

and an individual’s back of the knee measures 21″ from the floor, 

then, 

21″ – 15″ = 6″, 

i.e. a 6″ raised toilet seat is required.

How to choose a raised toilet seat for an elderly parent ?

 

As well as the correct height for a raised toilet seat, you also need to consider what is the appropriate type of seat for the user. You need to be asking yourself a range of questions –

 

  • what is the reason for using the seat
  • what is the age of the user
  • if it is a post-operative need, what is the user like physically in the rest of their body
  • how strong are they
  • is the user frail
  • how is their sense of balance – do they lurch a lot
  • how confident is the person moving backwards
  • how good is their eyesight
  • will the person need handles
  • do you think they have the strength to sit back slowly without jolting the seat

 

I will once again have to use my mom to illustrate what I am getting at here.

My mom is –

 

  • over 90
  • she was recovering from a hip replacement
  • she is pretty strong in her arms, but had a dodgy knee on the other leg at the time
  • she suffers from an eye condition
  • my mom’s balance can be a little iffy  because of her eye condition, and she does get a little dizzy at times
  • my mom does lurch for things sometimes, especially when she wakes in the night to go to the bathroom

 

All this meant that after her hip replacement my mom would need a raised seat which –

 

  • had handles of some kind to reach back for
  • could take the impact if she came back a little too hard
  • had some kind of structure to hold onto if she lost her balance
  • my mom could not slip off
  • was something which gave her confidence

 

To start we had purchased a raised toilet seat prior to Mom’s operation, and trying to show a little foresight we thought we would test this with her relatively good leg and bad hip, but it didn’t give us any confidence as there was nothing to hold onto etc. – it was just a basic raised seat with some clamps on the side which didn’t make it solid at all.

I was the one who tested it, and it was a bit like being at sea, it moved all over the place. We had visions of me finding my mom wedged between the toilet and wall, having slipped off.

In the end, we bought a portable bedside commode, not realizing how great this was until we realized that you can place it over the toilet if you remove the potty part. That as I say was over 18 months ago, and it still lives happily over the toilet in our bathroom and can just be lifted off when other people need to use the toilet.

The frame is solid, and it stops a person from slipping off, the armrests are much bigger than on a raised toilet seat, and the height is adjustable, so that if you get it wrong you can just pick another height. It has a range of about 5 inches – I believe 18 – 23 inches for the seat height, but others go even higher.

So, this whole story was just to illustrate that if you are trying to decide what height raised seat to get, height is certainly not the only consideration.

Most of the different types of raised toilet seats except for “risers” and “tall” seats have some examples with adjustable heights.

What is the best raised toilet seat after a hip replacement ?

 

Which raised toilet seat is best after a hip replacement really depends on the age of the person involved, their size and general health.

For elderly adults, I would advise, based on experiences with my elderly Mom, a safety frame with a raised seat, or a portable bedside commode with the potty removed.

In the hospital, the nurses and physical therapists show the patients how to sit down after a hip replacement, and how to stand back up again.

Remembering how to do this when you get back home is almost as important as the type of raised seat you use.

The caregiver of someone who has had a hip replacement must be familiar with how this is to be done as well, in order to make sure there are no further injuries.

If you want to learn more on the specific topic of seats for after a hip replacement, I have a specific article on the subject, “Best Raised Toilet Seats After A Hip Replacement”, in which I outline my preferred toilet seats for different types of individuals and situations –

 

  • best raised toilet seats after a hip replacement for an elderly senior
  • best raised toilet seats after a hip replacement for a larger elderly senior
  • best raised toilet seats after a hip replacement for a younger senior in good shape
  • best raised toilet seats after a hip replacement for larger, younger seniors

 

The article also looks at  –

 

  • do you need a raised toilet seat after hip surgery
  • how to sit on a raised toilet seat after hip surgery
  • for how long would you use a raised toilet seat after hip surgery
  • does Medicare cover raised toilet seats
  • how to choose your raised toilet seat

 

So what are the options for raised toilet seats and who do they suit

 

What most people would consider to be a raised toilet seat is some kind of plastic seat that is attached to the toilet bowl. These can be divided into two types, those where you remove the toilet seat totally and those where you don’t.

 

If you use your own toilet seat, you can use –

Risers

 

  • oval ring shaped blocks of plastic called “risers” which are placed under the toilet seat raising it up – they come in a range of heights from 2 to 4 inches – they are extremely solid as the toilet seat is removed and then placed on top of the new riser and bolted back down through the riser and on through the holes in the toilet itself that were used for the seat bolts prior to this
  • risers also come with a hinge in them just like seats do, so that you can lift and clean under them
  • I haven’t found a riser with adjustable height, but you can get them with adjustable arms
  • they come as standard and elongated

 

Of all the options which attach to the bowl of your toilet, risers are the most solid, and if you get them with arms, I think they are a good option for someone who is quite strong and has okay balance.

Some examples of these risers are

 

  • Nova 3 1/2 inch toilet seat riser
  • Maddak 4 inch hinged seat riser

 

Basic riser

Hinged riser

Alignment of a riser toilet seat, lid and toilet

Riser with armrests

Riser installed on a toilet under the seat and lid

Clip-On combi seat/risers

 

These are toilet seats that clip onto your existing toilet seat.

They have an opening in the front which allows you to squeeze them and place the inside rim in the opening of your seat and then let go. They are supposed to hold themselves in position through the tension.

 

Some examples of this are –

 

  • Ability Superstore 4 inch Clip On Raised Toilet Seat
  • Performance Health 4 inch Clip On Raised Toilet Seat

 

Clip-on raised toilet seat - topside

Clip-on raised toilet seat - underside

 

If you don’t use your toilet seat, you can use –

 

Seats with spacers

 

  • a new toilet seat which comes with small plastic legs or spacers on the underside – these toilet seats come in 2 inch or 3 inch models
  • replace your existing toilet seat which you unbolt and then fasten new tall seat in the same place with the new bolts
  • buy the seats with, or without, lids and with, or without, an opening at the  front
  • the seats are either for standard, or for elongated toilets.

 

Although these seats are bolted to the toilet and are not excessively high, they have no armrest, making it difficult for anyone with balance and mobility issues. I do think you could remedy this though with a grab bar on either side, and then it is quite a reasonable option.

I have, though, never sat on one and cannot vouch for their build quality.

An example of these seats is –

 

  • Centoco 3L440STS-001 raised toilet seat with lid

 

Spacer raised toilet seat with lid

Spacer raised toilet seat without lid

Spacer raised toilet seat installed on a toilet

Elevated or raised toilet seats

 

Elevated or raised seats are a combined riser and seat, and they require that you remove completely your toilet seat.

 

  • the seats come as 2 inch, 3 inch, 3 1/2 inch, 4 inch, 5 inch and 6 inch models
  • there is no one way to install these units
  • certain models have arms and others don’t
  • the arms may be removable and adjustable, it varies between models
  • make sure you get the right width between the handles for your loved one’s hips
  • the different types all have different weight capacities, so check that before you buy one
  • some raised toilet seats are adjustable and can have two or three heights

 

The types of fastening on elevated and raised seats –

 

  •  some simply slot onto the toilet bowl without any bolts or clamping -they have an internal part which goes down a certain way into the bowl to give grip

 

Some examples of this are –

 

 

NRS Comfort raised toilet seat
AquaSense Portable Raised Toilet Seat

 

Bubble seat raised toilet seat

Bubble seat raised toilet seat - underside

This system for me is very unstable, and I have not seen a model which does this and has arms, so I would only recommend this for someone with good balance and who has strong arms and is assured in their movements, and certainly not for an elderly person with any real issues with strength and balance.

You certainly don’t want to pick a model which is too high where only the toes or less are touching the floor, as people can lose their balance when getting up, and they have nothing to hold onto to steady themselves.

 

  • some raised seats fit over the bowl slotting on and have fixings on the sides which  have bolts which squeeze onto the bowl to grip it and provide stability in that way

 

Some examples of this are –

 

Aquasense 4 inchRaised Toilet Seat with lid
Vaunn Medical Clamp-on 4 inch Raised Toilet Seat

 

Side locking raised toilet seat with lid

Side locking raised toilet seat without lid

Side locking toilet seat installed on a toilet

These raised sets don’t have any armrest and don’t have any way for an individual to stabilize themselves other than to push on the seat itself, so really need to be accompanied by a grab bar son the wall by the toilet to make them viable at all for an older person. I have used one of this type, and I didn’t find it to be very stable or to give me a lot of confidence in its long term stability.

 

  • other types of raised or elevated toilet seats have a clamping or locking  system which is worked by a knob on the seat at the front

 

Some examples of this type –

 

Carex E-Z Lock 5 inch Raised Toilet Seat with Arms
Medokare 4.5 inch Raised Toilet Seat with Arms
Vive 5 inch Raised Toilet Seat with Padded Handles

 

Front locking raised toilet seat without handles

Front locking raised toilet seat with handles

Front locking raised toilet seat clamping mechanism underside

Front locking raised toilet seat on a toilet

 

These are the more expensive types of raised toilet seats and come with armrest and some have adjustable heights.

The locking system on these seats is the most solid looking, and is a kind of clamp which fixes onto the bowl at the front, at the back there is a lip which is designed to slot in under the rim of your toilet bowl.

I would still hesitate to use these with any elderly person who is frail and has real balance problems, and again wouldn’t do so without grab bars next to the toilet for added support, But for less elderly adults over a shorter period of time they may be suitable.

At least with these seats if the user’s feet are a little off the floor – not really recommended – they do have the armrests to help give them support and balance.

Extra wide raised toilet seats with legs

 

This is a raised toilet seat which is wider than the toilet bowl, and has 4 legs.

The seat is resting on both the toilet bowl and on the legs.

The design stops any wobbliness, gives a wider distance between the armrests for a larger person, and makes the seat more sturdy in general.

 

The main points –

 

  • the legs have to be adjusted to the height of the toilet bowl
  • the seat itself adds about 4 1/2 inches in height to the toilet on most models
  • depending on the brand the raised seats may attach differently to the bowl, but with four legs there is no real risk of it coming off
  • these raised seats can take greater weight than those without legs and are more stable

 

Definitely more solid than the seats without legs, and armrests are a lot easier for an elderly person to use, and as I have seen with my own mom, when a seat has legs it gives the person more confidence when using it, as there is no problem with the seat moving around.

 

Some examples of raised toilet seats with legs –

 

Maddak Extra wide Tall-Ette elevated toilet seat w/ aluminum legs, Prod. No. T725881000

Maddak Extra wide Tall-Ette elevated toilet seat with steel legs, Prod. No. T725882000

Mobb 4.5 inchRaised Toilet Seat With Legs Prod. No. MHRTSL

Herdegen Clipper VII 4.3 inch raised toilet seat w/lid and adjustable frame and armrests, Prod. No. 500431

Raised toilet seat with legs

Safety frames with elevated toilet seats

 

Safety frames with a raised seat are placed over the toilet. You just lift the seat and the lid of the toilet, and the place the frame over the toilet.

 

  • the seat is attached to the safety frame, and the frame takes all the weight of the body
  • the system is more solid than any seats which are attached to the toilet
  • all the frames with seats have adjustable height, so that the height of the seat is adjusted respectively.
  • the frames also have armrests which make getting on and off the seat very easy, and you can usually adjust the height of those also
  • some frames also have adjustable width

 

The frames are very solid, but as with all the seats of any frame type, make sure that you have the right frame capacity for you, or your parent’s, body weight.

Some examples of frames are –

PCP raised toilet seat and safety frame 2-in-1

Aidapt President raised toilet seat and frame 

Lattice commode toilet seat and frame 

OasisSpace Premium safety frame and raised toilet seat

OasisSpace Stand Alone raised toilet seat and safety frame

Platinum Health Ultimate Raised Toilet Seat

 

For the elderly, or for anyone else for that matter these safety frames with raised seats, or portable bedside commodes, are really the only options which afford total support and safety, except for special toilet lifts which are far more expensive and come with electrical, pneumatic and hydraulic assistance systems  to raise and lower the most frail of people.

 

Toilet safety frame with elevated seat

Toilet safety frame with elevated seat placed over a toilet

 

Portable bedside commodes

 

Portable bedside commodes can be used just like safety frames, and all that has to be done is to remove the potty part and the backrest if it’s in the way, lift the seat and lid on the toilet and place the commode over the toilet.

Everything that I have said about the safety frames pertains here too.

If your commode comes with a shield, you can place this under the toilet seat of the commode, and it will avoid any splashing, as it fits down into the toilet bowl – but to be honest we have never needed to use ours.

As I have said quite a few times, my mom has had used one over our toilet for the last year and a half and loves it !

Some examples of portable bedside commodes  are –

 

Drive Medical heavy duty bariatric commode

Drive Medical steel folding bedside commode 

UltraCommode bedside commode

3 in 1 bedside commode

Drop arm bedside commodes

Summing up…

 

To sum up, the height of the frame is really only one of the many things that you need to consider when selecting a raised toilet seat for someone, and you need to look at the health of the person and the conditions in which they are using the seat.

 

I hope this helps.

Good luck !

 

Articles you may also like …

 

What are medical alert systems ?

What is a fall detector ?

48+ Caregiver tips for elderly hygiene issues and care

 

I’m Gareth and I’m the owner of Looking After Mom and Dad.com

I have been a caregiver for over 10 yrs and share all my tips here.

Gareth Williams

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